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Kirby stars on course for next week’s Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse

Press Release 28th March 2019 Aintree

Kirby stars on course for next week’s Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse

Thursday, March 28, 2019 – Yorkshire trainer Philip Kirby is readying stable stars Blaklion and Lady Buttons for next week’s Randox Health Grand National Festival, which takes place from Thursday, April 4, to Saturday, April 6.

Blaklion is set to make his debut for the yard in the feature £1-million Randox Health Grand National, the world’s greatest and richest chase, on the final day of the meeting, Randox Health Grand National Day, while Lady Buttons will revert to fences for the £90,000 G3 Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase over two miles on Grand National Thursday, April 4.


Formerly trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, Blaklion transferred to Kirby in February after being purchased privately by owners Darren and Annaley Yates.

The 10-year-old has shown his liking for the Grand National fences in the past, having finished fourth in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National prior to an impressive nine-length victory in the Becher Handicap Chase in the December of that year.

Blakion, who was brought down at the first fence in the 2018 Randox Health Grand National, finished fifth on his final start for Twiston-Davies in a three-mile handicap hurdle at Haydock Park on February 16.

In-form Kirby, based near Catterick Racecourse in North Yorkshire and enjoying by far his best Jump season with 37 winners (up to and including Wednesday, March 27) , reported: “Blaklion is in good form and we have been happy with him since his racecourse gallop at Wetherby [on March 19].

“It was not too serious a workout, but it was good to get him on the track and get a nice blow into him.

“He heads to Aintree with a nice weight and has proven himself round the track before, finishing fourth in a Grand National and winning the Becher Chase.

“We have kept him fresh and we are looking forward to running.”

Blaklion is a 33/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival.

Lady Buttons has won four of her five starts so far this season, including a Listed mares’ chase at Doncaster in December and a G2 mares’ hurdle at the same track in January.

The popular nine-year-old was last seen out when fourth in the G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on March 12.

Kirby added: “Lady Buttons is set to run in the Red Rum Chase on the Thursday of the meeting.

“She ran well in the G1 Maghull Novices’ Chase there last year [fourth] and the plan has been to return to fences after Cheltenham.

“Things didn’t work out at Cheltenham, but she ran a creditable race and we have been happy with her since.”

Kirby also provided an update on Top Ville Ben, who returned to winning ways impressively in a novices’ chase at Wetherby on March 19, when scoring by 37 lengths.

The trainer said: “Top Ville Ben jumped brilliantly at Wetherby last week and he runs in the G1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase [3m 210y, Ladies Day, April 5].

“Top Ville Ben is very talented and I thought he had a real each-way chance at Cheltenham [when falling in the G1 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase on March 13], but he was just too brave at his fences there.

“He would need the ground to be at least good to soft to run because he has a high knee action and hits the ground hard.

“Hopefully, he could develop into a Grand National horse."

Grand National Thursday and Ladies Day of the Randox Health Grand National Festival are among the select few days racing in Britain which stage four G1 races – the highest class.

Entries for the races on Grand National Thursday, April 4, will be revealed tomorrow afternoon.

The 2019 Randox Health Grand National Festival –
Order of Running

Grand National Thursday, April 4
1.45pm Manifesto Novices’ Chase (G1) 2m 3f 200y £100,000
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (G1) 2m 209y £100,000
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase (G1) 3m 210y £200,000
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle (G1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase GNC 2m 5f 19y £45,000
4.40pm Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (G3) 1m 7f 176y £90,000
5.15pm Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NHF Race (G2) 2m 209y £45,000

Ladies Day, Friday, April 5
1.45pm Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle (G3) 2m 4f £75,000
2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (G1) 2m 103y £100,000
2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (G1) 3m 210y £100,000
3.25pm JLT Chase (G1) (registered as the Melling Chase) 2m 3f 200y £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (G3) GNC 2m 5f 19y £140,000
4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (G1) 3m 149y £100,000
5.15pm Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open NHF Race (G2) 2m 209y £45,000

Grand National Day – Saturday, April 6
1.45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (G3) 3m 149y £75,000
2.25pm Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (G1) 2m 4f £100,000
3.00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (G1) 1m 7f 176y £100,000
3.40pm Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (G1) (registered as the Liverpool Hurdle) 3m 149y £180,000
4.20pm Betway Handicap Chase (G3) 3m 210y £75,000
5.15pm Randox Health Grand National (G3) (Handicap Chase) GNC 4m 2f 74y £1,000,000
6.20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders) 2m 103y £50,000
TOTAL ON THE DAY £1,580,000
GRAND TOTAL £3,220,000

About Aintree Racecourse / The Jockey Club
Aintree is home to The Randox Health Grand National, the most famous horse race in the world which is the climax to a three-day Festival meeting in April every year. The racecourse hosts five other fixtures and is a leading conference centre in the north west of England.

More information is available at

Aintree is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival and The Investec Derby. Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences we offer through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny we make goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive. We were founded in 1750 and today we are the largest commercial group in Britain's second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and our charity, Racing Welfare.

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For further information please contact:

Grant Rowley, Regional Communications Manager, The Jockey Club (North West) on 07884 655990 or email:

Jessica Dalgliesh, Senior Communications Executive, The Jockey Club (North West) on 07464 491507 or email:



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